I have always believed in the power of storytelling, so I thought I would leverage it here in asking for your support.
From as early into childhood as I can remember, I was abused by family members. I hold a clear recollection of living in the fear of violence from my mother throughout my childhood but the single memory that I will carry with me all my life is that of the abuse I endured in Montpellier, France. There, my younger brother, mother, and I lived next to the elementary school I was attending at the time. During the two years we lived in Montpellier, my mother often beat me to the point of bleeding, or held me while my brother hit me as a form of punishment. I was often locked out of the apartment and left in the staircase during extensive periods of time. I have vivid memories of her asking me to get on my knees, stand straight in that position, and locking me in her room for hours on end without food or water during that time period. That time of my life was marked by recurring instances where I sought help from the administrative desk in our apartment complex or ran to neighbors for help in time of need.
A few years after my parents divorced, I moved to the United States with my siblings. I lived under the supervision of my older sister who acutely abused me as well. The school I attended at the time helped me petition with my father so that I could be moved into a safer situation, fearing for both my health and my livelihood. There, I found mentors and advocates who helped to pull me out of a scary situation during a time where I feared for my life. I found similar people who held me close when I went to college in Boston. I was able to ground myself in a community I had only known once before in my life. But my trauma caught up with me - on holidays I found myself celebrating alone or when my father demanded that I reconnect with my abuser in order for him to continue paying for my studies. Knowing that my academics were being affected by the situation I was in and feeling trapped by the abuse that followed me, I decided in August 2020 to step away from my family situation and move back to Cote d’Ivoire, where I am from. I have spent the following months desperately looking for work or a possible way to sustain myself financially, though in vain.
Unable to find work without a University degree at home, I pivoted to finding ways to finish my degree. I am now in Nairobi, Kenya trying to finish my studies at the United States International University (USIU). I hope to finish this degree in International Relations with a minor in Gender Studies and work in law or politics. I am kind and reflective so I intend to use it to lead in the creation of more equitable communities.
However, I have reached a point of not having the means to afford food, shelter, or my basic needs and can not continue without support. I couldn’t have walked the path I have without knowing the deep power of community. It is what has held me together. It is all that I have. I am weighed down by trauma and lifted by it. I am asking for your support in helping me raise $1,500 for food and the $9,000 necessary to cover the costs for the remaining 5 semesters I have at USIU.
Wherever you are reading this, know that your support will forever be a guiding light in my path forward. I am sending you love and light right back.